Twenty20 can earn you plenty
This year's Domestic Twenty20 Cup starts on Bank Holiday Monday maybe not with a bang but with a bit of a whimper.
Our odds compiler, and cricket expert, Rob Dixon gives his views below:
With the Indian Premier League reaching its conclusion, the World Twenty20 in England just around the corner and some un-summerlike weather currently, the start of the tournament seems to me somewhat subdued. There are though plenty of opportunities to make money on the tournament and here are my thoughts on who will be lifting the trophy on August 15th at Edgbaston.
This year's tournament is actually split into two, we have pre-World Twenty20 matches until June 5th & then we finish off the tournament at the end of June once the World Twenty20 has completed.
There are plenty of reasons though for opposing the favourites this year.
Joint Favourites are Kent and Durham (both 6/1) however neither team made it out of their Friends Provident Trophy group. Essex are third favourites at 7/1 but will miss Ravi Bopara, James Foster and last year's star player Graham Napier who will all be representing England during the group stages of the competition.
So where should you put your money?
My three against the field are Lancashire (9/1), Somerset (12/1) and Gloucestershire (16/1). Lancashire have flattered to deceive in recent years but they have good batsman in Francois du Plessis and the incoming VVS Laxman, there is also the chance that Andrew Flintoff will get a few games for them if expected he doesn't make it in time for the England Twenty20 Squad. As for them winning it outright I feel it maybe one step too far but I certainly would back them to top their group (11/4) where there are question marks about their rivals.
2005 winners Somerset will also be strong; the top order of old Ashes rivals Marcus Trescothick and Justin Langer will set the platform for young players like Arul Suppiah and James Hildreth to show their talent. Last year Essex's Graham Napier came to prominence based on his huge televised century against Sussex. This year's "journeyman turned star" could well be Peter Trego. A good all-rounder capable of hitting massive sixes and also bowling useful medium pace, he is well suited to one day and especially Twenty20 cricket. He will be a key factor if the cidermen are to reach finals day.
My final selection is former one-day kings Gloucestershire. They lost the final to Kent last time Finals day was held at Edgbaston and will be wanting to go one better this time round, coach John Bracewell is back at the helm and is already working his magic with the West Country outfit topping their Friends Provident Trophy group. They are a well organised unit led by captain Alex Gidman and will be tough to beat at Bristol. They have been the best backed team in the tournament and we have already been forced to cut them from 25s to 16s. A couple of early wins could see them one of the favourites to win.
Somerset: Twenty20 Cup outright - 12/1
Gloucestershire: Twenty20 Cup outright - 16/1
Lancashire: to win the North Group - 11/4